By Wendy Ruopp, Managing Editor of EatingWell
There's something about a warm summer night that makes the idea of savoring a cold, frosty beer so enticing. Could it be the way the tangy smell of the hops wafts about in the humid air? For me, it's that tingle on my tongue that comes with the first refreshing sip.
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Well, here's another way to enjoy summer's favorite beverage-use beer in cooking! Beer lends a unique and alluring flavor to foods. Whether it's pork, poultry or seafood, a splash (or more!) of beer will add a special kick to your meal that diners of all ages will rave about.
Here are 4 recipes that will get you to see your next beer as more than just a drink.
Agustine's Beer & Tequila Carnitas (pictured, see recipe below)
These pork carnitas have a little more flair and much less fat than the traditional deep-fried versions common to Mexican cuisine. Beer and dark tequila give them a very special flavor. Use leftover carnitas to make burritos, sandwiches or quesadillas.
Beer-Battered Fish Tacos with Tomato & Avocado Salsa
Lovers of fried fish get the taste without all the calories, and the salsa adds a fresh, clean note. To complete the Baja theme, serve with black beans, some diced mango and a bit of light sour cream.
Beer Barbecued Chicken
Here's our spin on the roast-a-chicken-on-top-of-a-can-of-beer technique that's popular with barbecue aficionados. To simplify things, we just pour a little beer inside the chicken as it cooks. The beer keeps the meat juicy and a smoky-flavored spice rub both under and over the skin gives it extra flavor.
Chile & Beer Braised Brisket
Brisket, a naturally tough cut, becomes meltingly tender braised in beer and chiles. Try this with corn tortillas or as a filling for enchiladas or tamales. Or serve simply with rice and a green salad.
Agustine's Beer & Tequila Carnitas
Makes: 10 servings
Active time: 1 hour | Total: 3 hours | To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat, covered, in microwave or 325°F oven.
Cost per serving: under $3
4 pounds bone-in pork shoulder (see Note)
2 cups diced white onion
4 poblano peppers, diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
3 cups diced seeded tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1 cup tequila, preferably Reposado (see Note)
2 12-ounce bottles dark Mexican beer, such as Negro Modelo
20 corn tortillas, warmed (see Tip)
1. Trim enough fat from pork to yield about 1/3 cup diced (discard the rest). Cut pork into 1-inch cubes.
2. Heat a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat and add the pork fat. Cook, stirring, until there is a thin layer of fat covering the bottom and the bits left in the pot are brown and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium and add onion, poblanos, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the pork and cook, stirring frequently, until enough liquid has been released to almost cover the pork and vegetables, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to maintain a lively simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced to a thick paste, about 30 minutes.
4. Stir in tomatoes, return to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add tequila and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and a thick sauce coats the meat, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the beer and return to a lively simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has evaporated, scraping up any browned bits near the end of the cooking time, 30 to 45 minutes more. Season with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the carnitas to a serving platter and let guests assemble their own tacos with warm tortillas and taco garnishes as desired.
Per serving: 470 calories; 19 g fat (7 g sat, 9 g mono); 86 mg cholesterol; 32 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 26 g protein; 5 g fiber; 308 mg sodium; 596 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (88% daily value), Zinc (34% dv), Potassium (17% dv).
Notes: Bone-in pork shoulder ("Boston butt" or "fresh pork butt") can weigh upwards of 10 pounds, so you may have to ask your butcher to cut one down for this recipe.
Golden-hued Reposado tequila has been aged in wooden barrels for a minimum of two months but no longer than 11 months. The flavor is more smooth and balanced than unaged (Blanco) or young (Joven) tequilas.
Kitchen Tip: 2 ways to warm corn tortillas: 1. Microwave: Wrap stacks of up to 12 tortillas in barely damp paper towels; microwave on High for 30 to 45 seconds. Wrap tortillas in a clean towel to keep warm. 2. Oven: Wrap stacks of 6 tortillas in foil; place in a 375°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Wrap tortillas in a clean towel to keep warm.
What is your favorite summer seasonal brew?
By Wendy Ruopp
Wendy Ruopp has been the managing editor of EatingWell for most of her adult life. Although she writes about food for the Weeknights column of EatingWell Magazine, her husband does the cooking at home.
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